South Korea on heightened alert as North Korea prepares for army celebration
The report comes after U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson said that the USA is looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on North Korea over its nuclear programme, including whether Pyongyang should have been removed from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Mattis credited China with trying to help get the North Korea situation "under control" with the goal of denuclearizing the peninsula.
Mr McMaster's comment is "not abnormal", Bruce Bennett, a Senior International/Defense Researcher at the RAND Corporation, told The Independent. And voices calling for Beijing to take a tougher stance with Korea are growing louder.
The movement of an American aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, triggered some confusion when President Trump said the carrier group was on its way to the area as added protection against the increasingly hostile state. "It can cause North Korea to revisit prior assumptions and to kind of rethink the situation, but it's unclear yet whether that's going to have a sufficient effect to actually bring this to a good conclusion".
Trump has taken a hard line with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has proceeded with nuclear and missile programmes in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions. He was filmed cheering and applauding in the state broadcast of the event as it concluded with a video of missiles striking what appears to be the west coast of the US. It has much "more retaliatory capability" than it has in the past, according to Mr Bennett.
Following a council meeting Tuesday, Chinese ambassador to the U.N. Liu Jieyi warned against any actions that would lead to an escalation on the Korean Peninsula.
Kim Jong-un has issued a stark warning to the US, telling them that they face a "super-mighty preemptive strike" in an astonishing threat.
U.S. options are limited as a result of Seoul's location as well.
Analysts for 38 North said that the facility could simply be on "stand-by" status and some of its personnel are enjoying a little down-time. "All options are on the table to achieve the objectives and ensure the stability of the people of this country", he said.
"How do they know it's not just phase one?" of a large-scale war, Mr Bennett posited.
The problem for China is a complex one.
"But at the same time", the prime minister said, "dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless and it is necessary for us to exercise pressure North Korea so that it comes forward and engages in this serious dialogue".
And yet, confronted with nuclear weapons in the hands of an insane and implacable enemy that is bent on developing the ability to hit our cities with them, Nicholas Kristof is most afraid of... An April 18 AFP report published in Japan Times observed, "North Korea could react to a potential USA strike by targeting South Korea or Japan, and officials in both countries have been ill at ease with the more bellicose language deployed by President Donald Trump's administration".
Reigning in Mr Kim without getting involved in a larger conflict will require caution on their part despite readying their missile-capable bombers.
The defense ministry said US and South Korean air forces were conducting an annual training exercise, codenamed Max Thunder, until April 28.